Potatoes 101: A Foolproof Guide to Cooking Potatoes
Potatoes are one of the most versatile, economical, and crowd-pleasing veggies. And as a rich source of B6 and C vitamins, they’ve been a staple food in almost every part of the world since humans have been farming.
Thanks to their relatively mild flavor, potatoes are an easy addition to almost any recipe. With the help of this foolproof guide, learn which spud is right for the job and how to prepare and cook the perfect potato every time.
First, Pick Your Potato
Russet potatoes: Sometimes called “Idaho” or “baking” potatoes, these are perhaps the most common variety of potato. When baked, the result is a delicate flavor, crispy skin, and light and fluffy center that’s perfect for a variety of toppings. Even better, they’re in season year-round and available in most parts of the country.
Yukon Golds: In the 1960’s, Canadian scientists developed this relatively new strain of potatoes. They’re a favorite among chefs for their flaky, golden flesh and mild, creamy flavor. Once considered a specialty produce item, Yukon Golds are now widely available in supermarkets throughout the year.
Red potatoes: Also called “new” potatoes, these range in size from as small as an egg to as large as an apple. They have a thin, papery skin and a firm, waxy interior. Their flesh is sweet and holds its shape well, even after boiling or roasting. You can find them in season during the late spring and early summer.
Then, Prepare Your Potatoes
Step 1: Using a vegetable brush, scrub your potatoes under warm water.
Finally, Choose Your Cooking Method
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Place the whole potatoes on a sheet pan and bake for 1 hour.
- Pierce the potato skin several times with a fork.
- Wrap the potato individually in foil and place it on the microwave oven rack.
- Microwave on high for 5 to 10 minutes.
Ways to Use Baked or Microwaved Potatoes:
- Fill the potato with warm rice pilaf, pecans, and dried cranberries for a hearty main dish.
- Top with scallions, cheese, sour cream and croutons for a crunchy twist on a dinnertime classic.
- Use the potato as a base for bold-flavored Mexican ingredients like spicy slow cooker chicken thighs, pepper jack cheese, and fresh salsa.
- Skip the hash browns on your brunch menu and top your potatoes with scrambled eggs and bacon.
- Toss chopped or diced potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper and any other seasonings of your choice.
- Put the potatoes on a baking pan and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes at 400°F.
Ways to Use Roasted Potatoes:
- Mix with roasted onions and toss with bleu cheese dressing for a creamy, tangy side dish.
- Add to vegetarian tacos for an extra-filling, meat-free meal.
- Layer into a cheesy, veggie-packed casserole.
- Marinate with pepper and onions in balsamic vinaigrette for the perfect complement to roasted Mediterranean chicken.
- Place whole or cut potatoes in generously salted, boiling water.
- Turn the water down to a gentle boil and cook for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the type and the size of the potato pieces. Check frequently to avoid overcooking.
Ways to Use Boiled Potatoes:
- Mash with milk, butter, and ranch dressing as a tasty topper for vegetarian shepherd’s pie or a perfect side dish for pan-seared lamb chops.
- Stir into a pot of comforting, creamy salmon or corn chowder
- Enjoy a classic Niçoise salad with boiled potatoes, green beans, hard boiled eggs, olives, radishes, tomatoes and tuna.
- Add into zesty chorizo tacos along with peppers and onions.
- Soak the cut potatoes in cold, salted water for 10 minutes.
- Drain and thoroughly pat to dry.
- Pour a 1/4 cup of peanut oil (or another high temperature oil) into a large, heavy cast iron or non-stick pan over high heat, and add the cut potatoes in batches.
- Let the potatoes fry for a few minutes on each side until golden brown.
- Turn the heat down to medium, and cover for another two minutes.
- Remove the potatoes from the oil with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on paper towel-lined plate.
- Season with salt and pepper.